Easily Confused Words: Attaché vs. Attack

Attaché and attack are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway. 

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Attaché (pronounced “at-tuh-shay”) is a noun.

  • It can mean a military person appointed to diplomatic role in a foreign nation to gather military information.
  • It can mean a diplomatic official hired to work at an embassy to provide expertise: cultural, commercial, defense, education, science are examples of these specialties.
  • It can mean a large shoulder bag used to carry files or computers.

Attack (pronounced “uh-tack”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means launching an assault as an army or military.
  • As a verb, it can mean to commit an act of violence against a person or persons.
  • As a noun, it means the event of an attack.
    • Pearl Harbor (in the US State of Hawaii) was under attack by Japan on December 7, 1941.
    • Four years later, in August 1945, two major cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were under attack by the US when it dropped one nuclear bomb at each site.
    • England was repeatedly under attack by German bombs from the air from the late 1930s-early 1940s.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Atticus Adams was appointed as a new cultural attaché to the Attazalan embassy. He was nervous about the appointment because the embassy had been regularly targeted for attacks by minority party political organization in the area. As a career language and cultural expert in this turbulent part of the world, possible danger literally “came with the territory” of the job. He accepted the job anyway.

#ECW, #ESL, #TOEFL, #englishsecondlanguage, #easilyconfusedwords, #currying_favor, #kathleenwcurry, #microfiction

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